SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Thunderbirds hosted their first-ever Hockey Fights Cancer game Saturday night.
The Springfield Thunderbirds dedicated the game to all cancer patients, fighters, survivors and those we've lost.
This year marks the first year American Hockey League teams are able to host their very own Hockey Fights Cancer Night, a night when players and fans come together to raise money and awareness.
Nathan Costa, the team's president, told 22News the team wants to be more than just a hockey team.
Costa said, "We really wanted to do something to put the spotlight on just what a terrible disease this is and use our platform for some good. Obviously, we're a hockey team but it's a way for us to do a bit more than going just beyond the hockey game."
In honor of the event, the Thunderbirds wore specialty lavender jerseys to embody cancer awareness. A silent auction for the jerseys was held during the game, and the proceeds will be donated to the T-Birds foundation and local cancer charities.
Proceeds will also help to start a scholarship fund in memory of both Alex Blais and Rachael Kowal, two members of the Pioneer Valley community who had strength and courage in the face of cancer.
Wayne Blais, the father of Alex, told 22News, "Everybody needs to help; everybody needs to fight. It's not something you could just sit on the sidelines and ignore because everybody is affected by it. I never thought my 12-year-old would end up dying of brain cancer but he did."
Every March, the Thunderbirds host Pink in the Rink for breast cancer awareness, and now in the fall, Costa told 22News, they look forward to hosting Hockey Fights Cancer for years to come.
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Video: Chad Johnson on his Hockey Fights Cancer mask